Calling someone a rotten egg has been one of the earliest insults we’ve learned as children, and for good reason: Rotten eggs aren’t just nasty, their smell is nauseating, too! Rotten egg smells do not just come from actual rotting eggs, but you can also find them in wells, water heaters and hard water. Why? Well, rotten eggs produce hydrogen sulfide ( H2S), a chemical gas that occurs when bacteria break down sulfates in organic matter with the absence of oxygen. In the right circumstances, rotten egg smells can arise from unexpected places, and can be very hard to get rid of completely.
Approaching the rotten egg smell problem should combine both pragmatic and scientific solutions. Zero in on the source (which shouldn’t be too hard, given the smell) and attack the problem accordingly. Here are some of the methods you can start working with:
Rotten Egg Smell from Rotten Eggs
Since eggs are one of the common household items, sometimes having egg-related accidents cannot be helped. Getting rid of rotten eggs from hard surfaces like tabletops, refrigerator shelves and floors can be easier than getting rid of them from fabrics such as mattresses and carpets, so results vary.
What you can do is open up your windows to let fresh air come in, use some heavy-duty detergent, a scrub and some elbow grease to scrub away the remains of the rotten eggs from the surface you’re cleaning. If you’re dealing with tiles and grouts, you might want to use an old toothbrush to help you get to the hard-to-reach areas.
Rinse the area with cold water. You can follow up this wash with another round of washing, or scrubbing the area with a paste made from tap water and baking soda. Rinse again.
Overlay the area while damp with a thick layer of dry baking soda and spray a bit of water on top of the soda. Let it sit overnight. Vacuum the baking soda and give the area another rinse using detergent. Completely dry the area.
White vinegar is also effective when it comes to dealing with common household stinks and odors. Spray white vinegar on the affected area before rinsing it off and having it dried. You can also try soaking (soaking, not dripping) affected fabrics with club soda before rinsing it off with detergent and water. For fabrics, you can also try rubbing fresh, unused coffee grounds into the cloth to cover up the smell.
There are a number of odor eliminator available in most supermarkets, which cover a variety of surfaces where the smell originates. Bleach is also a good option, although you should consider exactly what surface you’re going to use the bleach on, as bleach can cause damage to wood and even tiles made from specific stones.
Using a plug-in air freshener releases a gradual scent that will cover up the rotten egg smell for the meantime. This will also ensure that the freshener is on 24/7.
Rotten Egg Smell from Sinks
No matter how well-made your sinks are, there will always come a time where buildup will cause it to be blocked. The blockage can lead to mold growth, bacterial growth and as a result cause that rotten egg smell. Broken pipes can also be a cause of the smell, and if the bad smell is overwhelming, have it checked by a professional (Learn how to fix house drain pipe leaks). Methane poisoning can arise from bacterial growth and blocked sink drains.
If you are dealing with a fairly normal case, you can try to remove the blockage in the S-bend drain or J-bend drain using a wire or a plumber’s snake to remove all the accumulated gunk in the pipes. You should also check your vents as blockage in the system can manifest elsewhere. Put mesh wire over your outdoor vents to prevent foreign objects coming in. Products like Draino, made with alkaline, can also help you sterilize and get rid of the blockage in the sink pipes. You can also use enzyme cleaning products such as Bio-Clean, which breaks down organic material stuck in your pipes.
The smell could also mean that sewage water is getting into your water, so have your water tested. If you have a private well, you should check for the H2S in your water, and have it treated accordingly.
Rotten Egg Smell From Water Heaters
If you’re noticing that foul rotten egg smell emanating from the water heater, the likely culprit is the sacrificial anode rod, which decays over time. To fix this problem, short of replacing the sacrificial anode rode completely, is to flush the water heater properly in a ration of three pints of 3% peroxide in 40 gallons of water. Let the solution sit in the water heater tank and pipes for two hours each, before flushing away. You will not need to rinse out the sacrificial anode rod nor the water heater tank afterwards.
As a final step, you can increase the water heater temperature to 71 degrees Celsius to get rid of the bacteria causing the smell. Check your heater’s manual’s instructions if this is doable, or else you might end up having a water heater accident, or permanently causing damage to the unit.
Rotting Egg Smell from Water Treatment System
Water treatment systems get out the gunk out of your water so they will be safe and usable for us, but over time, accumulated gunk can lead to some unsavory smells. If you’re dealing with rotting egg smell originating from your water treatment system, the likely cause of your dilemma are the bacteria that have accumulated in the filter. Take out the old filter and clean it out with bleach and rinse with water. Replace your old filter with a new one. You can also do the same with the pipes.
There are also chemical means that are done to treat your water treatment systems. The iron filter removal method removes the iron and manganese in the water, as well as filtering out the hydrogen sulfide. The aeration removal method introduces oxygen that will help break down the hydrogen sulfide in the water, but may not completely eliminate the smell. Finally, the chlorine bleach removal method introduces bleach into the water which reacts with the hydrogen sulfide, usually done when the hydrogen sulfide appears in high amounts.
Getting rid of that nasty rotting egg smell may get frustrating, but a little patience and taking the scientific route will work in your favor. If you do everything correctly, you don’t have to be afraid of your home being called a rotten egg ever again. If you enjoy reading this article, might as well read how to get rid of fart smell.